MILAN – “I remember everything about that match, from Gigi Simoni's words on the evening before the game through to the duels on the field, the tension, the emotions and the joy after our victory.” A starter in Inter’s win against Real Madrid on 25 November 1998 and also a former Torino player, Fabio Galante, on the day of his birthday, spoke to us about the Nerazzurri’s upcoming fixtures, looking back at the past in the process.
“We went into the match against Real Madrid on 25 November 1998 after suffering a 2-0 defeat against them earlier on in the group. As was the case this year, the match hadn’t been played at the Bernabeu. Instead, we’d taken into the pitch in Sevilla and lost thanks to goals from Hierro and Seedorf. We’d prepared for the match well but found it difficult going against some great players once it kicked off, and we weren’t able to bring any points home.
“In the return fixture at San Siro, however, it was a different story. It was a hard-fought and wonderful game (click here to relive it all). I remember everything about the match, even the night before. We didn’t fear them and were fully focused, many of us were used to playing in games of such a high magnitude, Nevertheless, they were tough opponents. I remember some of us playing cards and others pool on the evening before, but you could feel the tension. Simoni then came in and said: ‘Guys, why are you all worrying? It’s not like we have to play Real Madrid!’ It was his way of trying to make us calm.”
“And then, everything went to plan. Real had so many talented players: Raul, Mijatovic, Roberto Carlos, Seedorf, Redondo, and they’d just become European champions for the first time in more than 30 years. But we knew that we had to and could beat them, and we knew that we were a great team. With the likes of Bergomi, Colonnese and Pagliuca in defence, we had strength and experience, while we also had grit, class and great champions in midfield and attack.
“I remember Zamorano diverting Ronaldo’s shot into the net and how we all ran to celebrate the first step towards victory together. Then, Seedorf equalised, something which could have knocked us back but instead pushed us on towards our objective. We knew we were still in the game, and we knew that we could restore our lead, so we picked ourselves up quickly. We didn’t give an inch in defence, and, at the other end of the pitch, we fought hard to score. In the end, we were rewarded. I can still remember Baggio coming on and lining up alongside Ronaldo. I remember Baggio’s brace and those seven minutes of unadulterated joy as we went on to claim victory. I also remember the goal to make it 3-1 and the celebrations that ensued, from Baggio and Simeone through to us all embracing each other in the Real Madrid goalmouth. Magnificent. It was a game that brought out the strength of a team full of great champions. That evening, we showed the whole world what we were capable of.”
After his Inter years, Fabio Galante moved to Torino, the Nerazzurri’s next league opponents. It was another important step in his career: “It was great spending five years in Turin, wearing the Granata shirt is a big thing. I made 135 appearances, scored a few goals and encountered many talented players. Sunday’s fixture will be a great match.”
The former defender, who was born in Montecatini Terme on 20 November 1973, scored three goals in 88 appearances for Inter and won the 1997/98 UEFA Cup while at the Club. Today, on his 47th birthday, FC Internazionale Milano and all of the Nerazzurri fans send their very best wishes!